during continued testing i had other issues where display would intermittently fail after using it for a while. i checked and replaced wires, even soldered over connectors on Arduino board (they were loose anyways), finally i tried directly wiring cs, and reset. if reset was gnd it always worked. cs didn't act differently.
the code that init display for adafruit (granted this is not an adafruit display)
while using adafruits graphics tests found this issue with reset pin not even being used in code! :
Adafruit_ILI9341 tft = Adafruit_ILI9341(TFT_CS, TFT_DC);
changed it to this
Adafruit_ILI9341 tft = Adafruit_ILI9341(TFT_CS, TFT_DC,TFT_RST);
second set of problems solved. i'll check another display when it arrives saturday.
i switched inputs to this to match pin out in thermal cam sketch.
#define TFT_DC 8
#define TFT_CS 10
#define TFT_RST 9